Competition may be bringing out the best in the two first basemen of the New York Mets. Ike Davis hit a pinch-hit, walk-off grand slam against the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday. A day earlier, Lucas Duda hit a pair of two-run home runs to lead the Mets to a 4-3 victory over the Reds. The two left-handed power bats have breathed life into a Mets team that started the season 0-3.
Prior to the series with the Reds, manager Terry Collins decided to give Duda an extended look at first base. While falling just short of saying the job was his, Collins has decided to play Duda every day for the next few weeks to see if he can grab hold of the job for good. Duda responded in game one of the series with the Reds, making Collins look like a genius. Ike Davis, relegated to a role on the bench, had a chance on Saturday to remind people that he wasn’t going to fade away.
With the bases loaded and none out in the bottom of the ninth and the Mets down by a run, Davis needed to at least tie the game with a sacrifice fly or a hit. Instead, Davis over-delivered. He timed a looping curveball from Reds closer-de-facto J.J. Hoover, and slammed it off the facing of the Pepsi Porch in right field. Duda’s the everyday first baseman? Not so fast, said Davis.
Competition can truly be a powerful motivator in sports. It all depends on how the player responds. The players involved can sulk and make excuses, or they can step up to the plate. So far, the battle to determine who will be the Mets’ first baseman in 2014 has brought out the best in Davis and Duda. And as a result of their performances, the Mets have won their first two games of the season.
In addition, Davis and Duda have each handled this situation with respect toward each other. As of now, they’ve avoided the tension that can be a negative force in the clubhouse.
In an ideal world, Duda and Davis will both ramp up their games, and produce for this team all season. It can only help the Mets. And if one of them increases their value enough to bring back a useful player in a trade, that would benefit the Mets as well.